Monday, June 24, 2013

What is something?

(Logic takes place in three parts, terms which are clear or unclear,  premises which are true or false and arguments which are valid or invalid.) In his section on defining terms Kreeft describes how to describe something using the following chart (p127-129):

What is a "man"?

  • Broadly = two legged animal
  • Narrowly = male rational animal
  • Obscure = an ontological synthesis of molecular and self-referential intentionality. 
  • Metaphorical = a ghost in a machine
  • Negative = neither ape nor angel
  • Circular = the creature with human attributes
  • Nominal = the species called "homo sapiens"
  • Essential = rational animal
  • by property = the animal that speaks
  • by accidents = the animal with two legs and no feathers
  • by Efficient Cause = creature whose soul is directly created by God
  • by Final Cause = the creature who seeks truth, goodness and beauty as ends
  • by Material Cause = the creature composed of an animal body a rational soul
  • by Effects = creature who produces culture
The only thing I'd want to add is that sometimes we use contextual thumbnail definitions. These vary between context.